Week 13!!

On Monday my British Life & Business class visited Wimbledon. Prior to the trip I was confused about how visiting Wimbledon would be relevant to the class at all. After participating in the tour, the trip’s relevance and importance could not have been any more clear.

We arrived at Wimbledon at 10:00 and proceeded to the basement to tour the inside to learn about its history. After discussing the evolution of Wimbledon and how it’s changed over the years, we focused specifically on its branding. This is where things became especially interesting to me. It’s incredible the value of Wimbledon’s brand recognition. We learned that it’s arguably the most instantly recognizable sports tournament in the world. After discussion, we all agreed. All it takes is two seconds of watching the game to know it’s Wimbledon: the grass courts and white uniforms make it clear. It’s subconscious to viewers the characteristics unique to Wimbledon:

  • as mentioned, grass courts & white uniforms
  • Strawberries & cream to eat
  • Pimm’s to drink
  • Unique Purple & green logo

I really enjoyed the tour and will always remember Wimbledon’s supreme brand awareness and significant history to Britain. It was great getting to tour the stadium and see everything up close!!

On Tuesday I visited Notting Hill & Portobello Market again. I had done this once before, but it was nice to have more time to spend to explore and enjoy the area. Notting Hill is full of beautiful multi-color homes, luxurious vehicles, and a massive market. It was a truly amazing day!

After interning Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday I boarded a plane set for Dublin on Saturday. The long weekend in Ireland was absolutely unforgettable. We landed in Dublin and explored the area on Saturday. Sunday, we participated in a cross-country bus tour that left Dublin for Galway, The Cliffs of Moher, and a few small towns in between. This tour offered breathtaking views of Ireland’s green rolling hills filled with sheep along with gorgeous coastal views. On Monday we left Dublin for the small coastal town of Howth. This town offered a cool seaside breeze and the best fish n’ chips I’ve had yet. Words can’t describe how beautiful Ireland was. Definitely my best trip yet!

Week 13 was one of the best ones yet. Wimbledon and Ireland in one week? What more could I ask for! One memorable week to say the least!

Week 12!

After finishing up with Monday’s classes I decided to hop on one of London’s buses to see where it would take me. I feel it’s critical to sometimes take a break and have the mindset of “just play it by ear”. I got on a bus in South Kensington and sat back and watched as we drove through Piccadilly Circus, Hyde Park Corner, and Marble Arch. I’ve ridden the buses a lot, but this was the first time where I did so at night. Christmas lights covered restaurants, pubs, and hotels, and made for an incredible view. It was a much needed night to sit back and enjoy the surroundings – with no plan, schedule, or itinerary.

As mentioned before, Tuesday’s are my day off. No classes, no internship, just a full day of free time in London. It’s always my mission to make the most of the Tuesday’s. No sleeping in, no staying at the flat all day. My time in London is way too valuable to me for that! This Tuesday I went along with flatmates on a bike ride. I can’t believe I’ve waited all semester to do this. We rented bikes in South Kensington and hiked around the Borough. We then bikes through Hyde Park and right up to the gates of the Kensington Palace. Tuesday was a gorgeous day and the bike ride was unforgettable. It was such an amazing day to enjoy the nature side of London!

Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday were spent interning! I continue to learn more and more at this internship. I really love my co-workers, and I’m enjoying learning more about the British workplace. My roles are advancing, and I’m making tangible progress, which is really exciting! Instead of just making sales calls, I’ve begun contacting partners, speaking more with clients, and making a lot more sales pitches. I’ve even had a few sales – which is so satisfying as someone who enjoys sales. As if studying abroad couldn’t get any better, the internship portion of the semester is absolutely amazing. What an incredible opportunity to attain international work experience!

On Saturday I stayed pretty close to home. I made my first appearance to the South Kensington Farmer’s Market – and I’m glad I did! An 8-ounce angus burger cooked served on brioche right in front on me did not disappoint. I enjoy visiting London’s markets and love the food. It’s such a great way to support locals while picking up food that is as fresh as it can get!

Sunday was spent playing darts! I caught up with a group friends that were visiting at Flight Club, located in Victoria. It was great catching up and Flight Club never disappoints. Food and darts, what’s not to love??

There hasn’t been a bad week abroad. This was another great one to the list. I continue to take more and more photos, write a few notes, and soak up every minute here in London. I don’t want to take any part of this experience for granted. It’s been amazing so far – and it’s not over yet!!

Week 11!

As Christmas is approaching, more and more of London is being lit with Christmas lights. It’s such a beautiful time of year here in London! It’s been getting chilly outside, but not as cold as it’s been in the states. It’s this time of year that makes you appreciate how hot the tube always is!

On Monday evening I visited the South Bank Christmas Market, which surrounds the London Eye. Tons of tents were set up with merchants selling souvenirs, crafts, and virtually any kind of food thinkable. I really enjoyed the atmosphere – cold outside with outdoor heaters set up, music, and amazing aromas coming from the food trucks. This market was definitely one of my favorite I’ve visited.

Having no class or internship on Tuesdays leaves my schedule pretty free. So, I visited Oxford Street because I’d heard a lot about it and I’d never visited there prior to Tuesday. It was very busy, with about any kind of shopping you could ever want. I explored around there for a couple hours with no agenda, schedule, or timetable to really appreciate the area. On Tuesday I visited Zetland Arms, which is a pub located in South Kensington, for Quiz night. It’s such a fun way to interact with locals, and it’s even better when your team takes the win! We all had an absolute blast!

Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday consisted of getting up and going to work at my internship in Hammersmith. My roles at the internship are continuing to progress, and I’m interacting more and more with clients through increasing the number of sales calls I that I make on a daily basis. This internship has already taught me so much about following up on sales leads, the British real estate market, and general property valuations. I cannot wait to see how much more I learn in the upcoming weeks.

On Friday night I visited Hyde Park for the newly set up Christmas display – Winter Wonderland. It’s so much more massive than any of the pictures show. I was shocked with all of the different parts of the Wonderland. The park is flooded with Christmas lights, large rides, food trucks, games, shops, and so much more. It was really fun and considering how close I’m staying to Hyde Park I’ll definitely be returning at least a few times!

Saturday morning I boarded a flight to Amsterdam. Amsterdam is one city that I’ve been wanting to visit all semester and I finally made it there! While in Amsterdam, I toured Heineken, checked out several museums, the Capitol, and participated in a canal tour via boat. My favorite was the Heineken Experience: learning all about the history of the brand, the Heineken family values, and the beer brewing process was absolutely fascinating!

I’m really excited to see what this next week brings. I’m really loving all of the Christmas lights and music in London, and I’m sure that there’s only more to come!

Week 10!

This was another unforgettable week in London full of first’s, more interning, and continued exploration of the city of London!

On Tuesday night, I had the opportunity to eat dinner at The Oblix, located in The Shard. This restaurant boasted an impressive height (on the 32nd floor) and offered a breathtaking view of the city lights, the Thames, London Bridge, and the London Eye. It was an absolutely unforgettable experience, and the steak wasn’t too bad either:).

On Wednesday I headed for my internship at ManageMyHomeGroup. I’m still learning how to use the CRM, all of the various software, and the basics of making sales calls. It’s really interesting, and I love being able to track tangible results and improvement through analyzing sales numbers. I’m really enjoying the internship. Here’s the building the office is in:

Thursday and Friday consisted of more hours at the internship, as well as attending meetings at a financial advisory firm that partners with ManageMyHome. It was great learning more about mortgages and home financing works. It’s essential to understand the basics of property financing to be able to answer client’s questions. Additionally, on both Thursday and Friday I had lunch with my team – which was very enjoyable. On both days we tried out different pubs. The food was delicious, and the time spent outside of the office with coworkers was very enjoyable.

Over the weekend I decided it was time to act like a tourist again! I got up early and boarded the bus to ride around various parts of the city with no schedule or destination in mind. I hopped on and off at various places, such as Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus to check out some pop-up markets. I’ve found that riding the bus is a great way to see different parts of the city, requiring little walking. This is especially helpful now that it’s colder and continues to rain so much.

This week has been laid back, and I’ve enjoyed it so much. Now that time in London is winding down it’s all about enjoying the experience and appreciating everything the city has to offer. I’m beyond grateful for this experience, and it’s necessary that I remember how fortunate I am to be studying abroad!

Week 9

After recovering from a week of traveling throughout fall break, Monday morning came quickly. Rather than attending the typical Monday morning class, my British Life & Business class attended a field trip across London. During this trip we participated in a walking tour across various parts of Covent Garden to learn more about London’s sustainability initiatives. I was really impressed by the many “going green” initiatives that the City of London has implemented. I had never understood the importance of parks and natural vegetation in cities until this trip. I found it very fascinating learning the impact that plants that aren’t typically thought about – such as plants acting as insulation for buildings. The field trip was a great learning experience and we were able to see beautiful parts of London that I’d not yet seen.

Tuesday a group of friends and I visited the Natural History Museum, located close in South Kensington. The museum was much larger than I anticipated, and featured many different displays of animals, plants, and minerals. Some of the animals that stood out were a giraffe, a swordfish, and a gorilla. Attached is a photo of Guy, the Gorilla.

On Wednesday, I started my first day as an intern at MyHomeGroup. My role is sales-based and consists of contacting sales leads and assisting clients throughout real estate transactions. My first few days consisted of making hundreds of phone calls, analyzing consumer data, and creating spreadsheets. Additionally, I’m getting experience utilizing CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software, which is very useful for organizing customer data. I’m really excited to have the opportunity to intern abroad. It only took one day at work to see the many cultural differences between the workplace in the US and the UK. Frequent breaks for tea and pub outings for lunch are definitely aspects of the work culture that I could easily get used to.

I decided that I wanted to explore England (outside of London) on Saturday, and booked train tickets to Oxford. Although the weather was ugly, the city itself was very beautiful. I loved seeing the gorgeous campus and amazing buildings. Regardless of how dark and rainy it was, the natural greenery of Oxford still stood out! Green grass and fall flowers made for a not so bad view! While in Oxford I stumbled upon a market that happened to have some great food trucks too, so that was a huge plus too.

Another enjoyable week down while abroad!

Fall Break!

This week was the fall break that we’ve all been looking forward to. Fall break consists of one week free of classes and internships. The majority of students decided to utilize this time to travel, and so did I. Choosing a destination was easy, I’d always wanted to visit Italy, and I knew there was too much to see to cram the visit into a weekend trip.

Early Sunday morning I headed for Stansted Airport to catch a flight to Milan. Upon arrival in Milan I took a train down to Florence. My expectations of Florence were surpassed substantially. As soon as I left the train station in Florence it was easy to see just how beautiful of a city Florence is. I spent the rest of Sunday exploring the city with friends, taking in amazing views, and eating amazing food. On Monday we participated in a half day vineyard and wine tour which consisted of traveling to various vineyards across the Italian countryside in the Tuscany region. The more I looked around at the fields of grape vines, timber, and rolling hills, the more speechless I became. It was an amazing day full of gorgeous views and tasty wine.

On Tuesday we traveled back to Milan to meet some other friends. Milan was very different, and had a much more “city” feel than Florence. We spent all day Tuesday checking out the city and, of course, trying out various restaurants. The Milan Cathedral was my favorite part of the city.

Wednesday morning we left Milan for Venice. I never realized the significance of Venice’s canals until I made it to Venice. There were no cars to be found, and no roads to be seen. Law enforcement, commerce, and logistics appeared to flow through the canals via boat. Venice’s unique geography was beautiful. We participated in a gondola canal tour, which was an unforgettable experience.

After exploring all of Venice for two days, on Thursday we took a train to Rome. We lucked out and got and Airbnb that was very well-located (10 min walk from the Colosseum). Rome was absolutely amazing. We visited the must-see’s, such as the Colosseum, the Vatican, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, the Roman Forum, and the list continues. This city was unlike anything I’ve ever seen, and pictures don’t do it justice. I was really fascinated by not only the architecture of the buildings, but also seeing the ancient building remains that were left virtually untouched. Rome is definitely a must for any Italy visits.

This fall break week has been absolutely incredible. I had an amazing time exploring Italy with friends, taking advantage of the delicious food, and taking in the amazing views that Italy has to offer. I am so glad we visited four cities because we were able to experience just how unique each city is. Regardless of the differences of the various parts of Italy, one thing appears to be constant – amazing, authentic Italian food.

It’s Sunday now and as this week concludes an exciting one begins: the first week of our internships! Next week’s blog will be full of the details!

Week 7!

Week 7!

I feel obligated to begin by saying just how beautiful Windsor Castle is. On Tuesday I decided to catch a train to see what all the hype was about. Wow! The Castle is absolutely breathtaking. I was in shock because when I arrived I noticed something that I haven’t seen very much in London: sunshine! The weather was absolutely perfect. This made the day so much easier to enjoy, and the sunshine combined with the luscious greenery around the Castle made it memorable trip.

Prior to the trip, I really had no idea of what Windsor Caste is, the history of it, and its significance – so here is a little background. The Castle dates back about 950 years and has served as the home of British Kings and Queens for that time. It is currently the official residence of Her Majesty The Queen. It’s no small piece of real estate, either. It’s the biggest house in the world boasting 484,000 square feet and nearly 1,000 rooms (all while occupying 13 acres of land). The architecture was amazing and the colors and art were absolutely brilliant! St. George’s Chapel is a noteworthy part of the castle. My favorite part of the Chapel was all of the detailed artwork. The trip to Windsor Castle was well worth it! Highly recommend!

On Friday I visited Camden Market for the first time. I’d heard a lot of good things, and all stood true! I couldn’t even overlook the many food choices when walking in (of course tried the pizza). The market consisted of more stands and shops than I could count. Many sold clothing, souvenirs, artwork, and some just random stuff. The amount of food choices at the market was insane. I really enjoyed walking around and checking everything out. The vibe at Camden Town is very unique, and it’s such a fun place to be. I’ll definitely be returning soon to Camden.

This week concludes all but two of my classes as the internship is quickly approaching. It’s crazy how fast the classes have flown by, and I’ll miss my classes, but I look forward to the internship. There’s no doubt that I’ve made friendships from the classes that will continue! The week we’re given for fall break is not going to be wasted! I plan on traveling with friends throughout Italy and I have high expectations for the food. I just touched down in Milan, and more details of the Italy adventures will come!

Week 6!

Week 6 has come and gone! This week consisted of more and more course work, as well as adventures in London. The weather has been really rainy, but I’m not going to let a little rain stop me from getting out and exploring this amazing city!

For my International Trade class we took a field trip to Primark – which is a low cost retail store. The store was gigantic! Our class was in shock at just how affordable everything was! We’re working on a case study analyzing which markets Primark is currently in and selecting two markets where we feel Primark could succeed. This has required extensive research, but has been a very good learning experience. Our report is to be presented as if we are speaking to Primark executives. The projects like this one are really enjoyable here at FIE!

I decided I’d been in London too long to not have visited Regent’s Park, Primrose Hill, and Abbey Road. Regent’s Park struck as one of my favorite places in London. The park was massive, and it was so green! The leaves are beginning to change colors and the various colored trees throughout the park looked like a postcard. Nearby, Primrose Hill was a site that I am really glad I visited. The views from the top of the hill were amazing. I wasn’t thinking when I only wore a t-shirt – since there were no trees on top of the hill the extreme winds made it chilly! It was so worth the visit though! After leaving Primrose Hill I headed to Abbey Road Studio. The studio’s history made it a must-see. As the world’s most famous recording studio, it’s a popular attraction. Some of the biggest names in music history recorded here, such as The Beatles, Pink Floyd, and Nirvana. This day was one I’ll remember for sure!

Later in the week I found out the name of the place I’ll be interning (starting in a few weeks). The startup is called MyHomeGroup Ltd. and is a growing real estate agency. I was really interested when I began learning about the business, and it’s business model. It’s not the traditional real estate agency, but rather a 0% commission firm that has fixed-rate listing plans to save consumers money. The internship will be located in Hammersmith, which is under a 30 minute commute – which is awesome! My roles will vary, but I’m expected to answer phone lines, assist the sales team, and communicate with clients. I can’t wait to start! I think it will be a wonderful learning opportunity!

This week has been an exciting one, and I’ve finally becoming more and more comfortable here. The tube is no longer confusing (well, not as confusing), the various parts of London are no longer foreign language, and I’ve acquired a taste for afternoon tea. This experience is doing exactly what I’d hoped – forcing me out of my comfort zone to literally make me become a more open-minded person. I’m so thankful to be here. 

Stay tuned. 

Week 5

More Field Trips!

On Tuesday I traveled with my Strategic Brand Management class to a small brewery called Hiver. In class we’ve been discussing the different stages of the product life cycle, and how brands manage these product life cycles. I continue to enjoy visiting places in London that I haven’t been to before. Hiver was located near the Bermondsey station, which I’d never heard of until Tuesday morning. Everything about Hiver was absolutely fascinating. Upon walking through the entrance everyone could quickly gather an insight to everything the brand stands for. One of my favorite aspects of the brand was sustainability. Hiver is a relatively young brand that manufacturers honey beer. The manufacturing process of Hiver’s product lines is mainly internal. Hiver actually partners with beekeepers to produce sustainable sources of honey that provides delicious taste, while helping the environment with their beekeeping practices. We were given a tour of the facility and listened to a presentation on the Hiver brand: how it began, the brand’s purpose, mission, and growth models. I enjoy learning how businesses grow through purpose, especially those that focus on social responsibility. This field trip was a great learning experience that I won’t forget.

There’s not a day that goes by here in the UK that we don’t hear about Brexit. I’d heard about Brexit before going abroad, but I knew nothing about it. In my International Trade class we’ve been discussing in depth what Brexit is and the possible implications following a successful deal or a No Deal Brexit. Our class split into two groups for a debate – the remainers and the leavers. We prepared for weeks to analyze the pro’s and con’s and I can now say I know a lot more than I did regarding Brexit. The class debate took place on Tuesday with a duration of 40 minutes. The debate was very intense, but it provided a unique way to gather an understanding of Brexit that I would not have if it weren’t for the debate.

Thursday evening I decided to book tickets to Paris for the weekend. Tickets were booked around 8:00 pm and I was boarding the bus at 11:30. The whole idea of this solo trip was supposed to be brilliant. I’d sleep Thursday night on the bus (8.5 hour ride), find a place to stay Friday night, and sleep on the bus ride back on Saturday night. While sleeping on the bus wasn’t as comfortable as you may think, this trip was an unforgettable learning experience. Friday I spent the day walking through the city and spent a large portion of my time exploring around the Eiffel Tower. On Saturday I enjoyed a bus tour around the city, which was an amazing way to see so much in such a small amount of time. Paris is an amazing city, and visiting it solo allowed me to immerse myself in the culture and truly appreciate everything Paris has to offer.

Week 5 down!

Week 4!

This has been another unforgettable week abroad! I’ve spent the week exploring the city, attending a field trip, and visiting Belgium. Can I pause the clock? – Because these weeks are coming and going way too quickly!

On Tuesday I attended a field trip to the Museum of Brands with my Strategic Brand Management class. The museum was fascinating – especially for a business major! We looked at a huge variety of products – from cleaning products to computers and virtually everything in between. It was fascinating to see how different brands have not only changed their logos, but how they’ve completely re-branded based on corporate values, time periods, and government regulations. Another aspect of the visit that I enjoyed was learning how global brands – such as Proctor & Gamble and Unilever position their same product lines as we see in the US with completely different branding. For example, Proctor & Gamble’s “Dawn” dish detergent won’t be found in the UK, but “Fairy” dish soap will. Another example we saw was Unilever’s “Axe” line of men’s grooming products labeled as “Lynx” in the UK. 

The trip to Brussels got off to a rocky start after I missed my train, but it soon turned into being a very enjoyable trip. It’s amazing how every day abroad offers learning opportunities. I overslept, procrastinated packing to the “morning of”, and I forgot my passport on trip #1 to the train station. Each of these could (and should) have been avoided, but I did very little planning and a whole lot of procrastination! I continue to see the importance of time management, determination, and planning ahead. 

When we arrived in Brussels on Friday we explored the area simply by walking miles without plans, maps, or time-frames. The architecture and infrastructure in Europe continues to amaze me, and I love seeing just how different it is than that of the US. 

On Saturday we caught an early morning train to Brugge. An hour train ride away, I would’ve thought we were in a completely different country. We toured a very large Cathedral dating back hundreds of years. My favorite parts of the experience were seeing the beautiful stained glass and taking in the amazing sounds of the organ. Later that day we toured a local beer museum, took a canal tour through the city, and walked through some of the oldest churches and buildings in the entire city.

Both cities in Belgium were absolutely captivating, and it was another unforgettable weekend trip. Here’s a little tip just in case you get the opportunity to visit Belgium: the waffles really are the best, no doubt!!

I love taking field trips such as this one because they provide opportunities to gain real-world, memorable examples of the subjects we learn about in the classroom. This field trip was very memorable, and I’m excited for any future trips like this that I may have the opportunity to participate in!

One more week down, many more lessons learned, and many more to go. I’m so excited to see what this next week will bring.

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